Last week Yosefe Alomang, a tribeswoman and environmental activist from West Papua, was awarded the prestigiousGoldman Environmental Prize, known as the “Green Nobel,” for her courageous work against the giant mining corporationFreeport McMoRan.
For more than 30 years Freeport has mined copper and gold on the land of the Amungme people, depositing more than200,000 tons of toxic tailings into local rivers and streams each day, destroying rainforests, displacing indigenouspeoples, and collaborating with the security forces of the Indonesian government. In 1994, Yosepha was arrested andtortured for six weeks for allegedly giving support to West Papuans resisting Freeport and the Indonesian military.Freeport’s activities in West Papua have been widely condemned by international human rights and environmentalorganizations.
When the Wall Street Journal called Freeport to get their response to Mama Yosepha’s prize they responded thatthey were giving her $250,000 as well. She was informed of this by Wall Street Journal, which reported thatshe had accepted Freeport’s money. She told Democracy Now! her answer is no.
Tomorrow shareholder activists are heading to the annual shareholders meeting for Freeport McMoRan in Delaware. Amongthe issues they will raise is Freeport’s interference with independent investigations of the Louisiana basedcompany’s record of gross human rights and environmental abuses.
And in a twist that would have made George Orwell proud, Freeport recently hired Judge Gabrielle Kirk McDonald, theformer head of the International Criminal Tribunal for Yugoslavia, to serve as legal counsel to Freeport Chair JimBob Moffet. Her charge in Yugoslavia was to go after some of Europe’s worst human rights abusers, yet McDonald is nowbeing paid a quarter of a million dollars a year to represent the company Mama Yosepha has been fighting for decades,a company charged with an extensive history of environmental and human rights abuses.
- John Rumbiak, Supervisor of the Institute for Human Rights Studies and Advocacy in Jayapura, West Papua.
- Abigail Abrash, former program director for Asia for the Robert F. Kennedy Memorial Center for HumanRights and a former visiting fellow at Harvard Law School’s Human Rights Program.
- Yosepha Alomang, 2001 recipient of the Goldman Environmental Prize and environmental activist from WestPapua.